Free Union Wood and Garden Journal

Location: Free Union, Virginia, United States

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Timing is Everything

peony in the rain
Rain In Summer
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain!
How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs!

How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the over-flowing spout!
Across the window pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and side,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain!

The tomatoes, as well as a few new perennial flowers (Blue and Red Veronica, AKA "Spike Speedwell" - who names these things?), went in today. Despite my fondness for the traditional Saturday siesta, some clouds came in and without checking the forecast I decided it was time to plant these babies, having bought them earlier in the week. The skies opened up for a long, beautiful summer shower just as I was placing the final bits of mulch, and everything got a perfect soaking with no effort on my part.

The tomatoes went in to the old mint field on the edge of the deck - I was torn between placing them in planters and fixing them in the ground, but thought it would be better to have them along the path of the soaker hose - I'm a big fan of working smarter (not harder) and if the success of any of these plants relied on my own personal motivation, it would be a sad sight out there indeed.

And now, the Veronica Sisters:

pink veronica

The pink flowers are nearly neon.

blue veronica

the blue is about half as tall as the pink on planting

Guidance from

Veronica spicata is a herbaceous perrenial. 'Sunny Border Blue' produces erect sturdy spikes of tubular, dark violet-blue flowers from early summer to late autumn. This is a clump growing perennial with lance-shaped, crinkled, toothed, glossy dark green leaves. This species needs good drainage, moisture and full sun, good for sunny borders and rock gardens. Keep dead flowerheads removed to prolong the bloom time.

Labels: , ,

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dame's Rocket

Dame's Rocket

The Dame's Rocket is in it's second bloom, after a a series of storms blew off most petals a few weeks ago. Some mild pruning after the storm seemed to kick it into gear and I should note that it's recommended to prune as soon as the flowers begin to pale.

This just in - Dame's Rocket is a member of the Mustard Family, and a WEED! But a beautiful one:

Hesperis matronalis at the University of Wisconsin

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Heirloom Tomatoes

Meet Mr. Stripey, and the Green Zebra:

2 matos

Tomato CU

I picked these up from the nursery on Rio Road - it was harder to find heirloom tomatoes than I expected but these look very hardy, thick stalks and smell SO good. I'm still debating whether they will go in planters or in the ground, so you know there will be an update after I make that decision this weekend. In the photo above you can see they are already starting to bloom.

Tomato solo

Both plants are about 3 feet tall.

Labels: , , ,

Peonies in Bloom!

Going for about a week now, the look big, pink and beautiful. Unfortunately, half the plants have not bloomed, so we'll have to look into putting some new bulbs in next year, not sure if they are just tired or played out entireley (I recall a few didn't perform that well last year). The blooms, however, look great:


Labels: , , ,

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mucho Macho! (and Hungarian Wax)

2x each of the above mentioned peppers went in today, sourced from Whole Foods. Happy Memorial Day!

The peppers are called"Much Macho Hybrid" and looks like a Jalapeno; and "Hungarian Wax"; a Yellow and Hot. They're on the North side of the herb garden and promising, as peppers tend to be. They're flowering already, so hopefully we'll have fruit mid-summer.

peppers dark


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Herbs in, Birds gone, and Ladyslippers in bloom

Nearly a year after the last update, there's a lot to tell, but it's a beautiful spring day so why not take the laptop outside...

About one month ago while Dev was in Arizona for a week, I put an herb garden in, reclaiming an old wood pile just off the West end (if the front door faces East) of the deck. Almost everything has thrived due to a wet spring (finally!) and a judicious increase in sunshine allowed by the trees we took out about two years ago. I say "about" because we used the firewood from those trees this past winter, so it must have seasoned about that long. More on that after the generic update:

We took a walk through the woods yesterday and saw several Laydyslippers in bloom, and looking quite healthy. Nice to catch them before it's too late! This is graduation weekend at UVA, and if memory serves, this is about the same time we thought to go looking for them last year (ed: same weekend almost to the day!). Hopefully I'll grab a good camera and get some pictures while they're at this stage, but the flowers are large and lush, and there are several other plants with healthy leaves, so we'll see if we get more blooms down the road.

The herb garden has been a pleasant suprise - the first real planting done here since we took out a few trees, and I noticed today the deck and garden areas recieve about two hours of direct sunlight this time of year. With the generous rains we've had I've not been shy about watering with the soaker hose too, and I'm sure that's helped. We're starting to think about putting in a rain barrel which would make it easier on the conscious for feeding the plants, but we'l see what happens with that ;-)

In no particular order, the herb garden has:

Kentucky Colonel Mint (x2, background above): Robust, Sweet, and with a very strong (but pleasing) mint aroma. Compared to the mint I seeded last year (?), it is less milky and more minty - it'l be great in Deven's tea!

Rosemary Arp (x2, foreground): has thrived but grows slowly, with a great aroma off the leaf. Strong and green, I have no idea what we'll use this in, but look forward to it!

Chives Garlic (x2): two small bunches center things, small bunches but aromatic. I just trimmed some of this grassy delight for our salad tonight, there's not a great deal of it so I'll be interested to see if it's enough to add a little zing.

Silver Edged Thyme (x3) - these small clusters have thrived as well, not growing quickly but consistently, and add a really nice visual element. Te aroma is beautiful and I'm looking forward to a tomato sauce, etc, that we might use this in.

Rosemary Salem (1, no pic): this came from a different greenhouse than the rest an looked very robust before planting, but does not seem to be growing as fast. It's on the houseward side of the garden, and I'll be interested to see what becomes of this singular planting.

Lavender Provence (x4) rounds out the outside of the curve on the garden and has thrived as well. Planted while nearly flowering, we've had pretty much at least one extra flower shoot per plant. I believe these are perrenial and self-seeding, so I hope to see more next year!

On the interior of the garden, I added a flower and herb (thinking the herb was just a flower) to add some color:

Dame's Rocket (Hesperis - Purple) - is a biennial that was flowering when planted and maintained for over a month, until heavy storms knocked off most (but not all) of the blooms. As advertised, attracted butterflies immediately and thrives thus far. I wouldn't hesitate to add more of this next year.

Agastache "Blue Fortune" (Anise Hyssop) Blooms May to November but has not done so yet. Chose this as a late bloomer for the fall and simply to add color to the garden, but the Anise aroma is strong - yet wonderful - and will be great in tea.

Other than that - the chick brood over the window (returned to the almost the exact same place as last year, but on the other side of the windowsill) took flight today. I don't know if they are gone from the nest for good, I should probably go inside in case my presence is what keeps them away...


This photo was taken about one hour before I began writing this post. Looks like they've flown the coop - for good!

Labels: , , , , ,